Google’s Verily spikes glucose-sensing lens project with Novartis’ Alcon

Verily, Novartis' Alcon

Google (NSDQ:GOOG) life sciences company Verily said late last week that it is putting its joint project with Novartis (NYSE:NVS) unit Alcon to develop a glucose-sensing contact lens on hold due to difficulties in obtaining reliable tear glucose readings.

The project, which began in 2014, aimed to develop a contact lens that could measure glucose levels for individuals living with diabetes, according to a blog post from Verily chief technical officer Brian Otis.

But measuring glucose levels from tear glucose has proven to be unreliable, according to the blog posting.

“Our clinical work on the glucose-sensing lens demonstrated that there was insufficient consistency in our measurements of the correlation between tear glucose and blood glucose concentrations to support the requirements of a medical device. In part, this was associated with the challenges of obtaining reliable tear glucose readings in the complex on-eye environment. For example, we found that interference from biomolecules in tears resulted in challenges in obtaining accurate glucose readings from the small quantities of glucose in the tear film. In addition, our clinical studies have demonstrated challenges in achieving the steady state conditions necessary for reliable tear glucose readings,” Otis wrote in the posting.

The companies are still jointly developing smart contact lens devices for a number of other uses, according to the posting. The teams have developed methods to integrate wireless electronics and sensors in “thousands of lenses in numerous form factors.”

Other projects the companies have added to the list include smart intraocular lenses intended to improve sight following cataract surgery and smart accommodating contact lens tech for treating presbyopia, Otis wrote.

Verily and Alcon will continue to partner on both the smart accommodating contact lens and smart intraocular lens projects.

“We’re looking forward to the next phase of development on our other two Smart Lens programs with Alcon, where we are applying all our significant technical learnings and achievements to prevalent conditions in ophtalmology,” Otis wrote in the blog posting.

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Google taps ex-Geisinger CEO Feinberg to lead consolidated Google Health biz | Personnel Moves – November 14, 2018

Google Health CEO David Feinberg

Google (NSDQ:GOOG) has picked up former Geisinger Health CEO David Feinberg to lead its fragmented health divisions under the Google Health moniker, according to a recent CNBC report.

The tech giant had been searching for a head for several months, with artificial intelligence head Jeff Dean heavily involved in the process, according to the report. Other candidates include execs from health consulting, hospital management and insurance.

In his new position, Feinberg will work closely with CEO Sundar Pichai, according to CNBC, which references individuals familiar with the search process.

Feinberg will oversee multiple groups at Google interested in healthcare including its core search team, cloud business and Google Brain AI team, according to the report.

The formerly independent Alphabet DeepMind health and AI company will also merge back into Google under the newly formed Google health team, according to a separate CNBC report.

Feinberg will be looking to organize the healthcare efforts at the tech giant, including building a health team within Google’s Nest automated home division, which was also merged back into the Google Home team this year, that could help monitor seniors living independently, according to the report.

No information has emerged as to whether Feinberg will work hand-in-hand with other Alphabet healthcare plays, including Verily.

Google has not yet officially commented on the hiring.

 Owens & Minor names Sledd as interim prez & CEO, begins search for perm replacement

Owens & Minor (NYSE:OMI) said last week that it named board member Robert Sledd as its new board chair and interim prez & CEO, succeeding P. Phipps.

The Richmond, Va.-based company said that it has formed a search committee, which will be assisted by an executive search firm, as it looks for a permanent replacement for the departed Phipps.

Sledd has served as a board member since 2007 and previously spent more than 20 years as chairman and CEO of food distro company Performance Food Group, which he co-founded in 1987. He also recently served as managing partner at Pinnacle Ventures and Sledd Properties, and prior to that served as a Senior Economic Advisor to the former Governor of Virginia.

“The board believes the business will benefit from a change in leadership. We thank Cody for his contributions to Owens & Minor and appreciate Bob Sledd’s willingness to step in on an interim basis as we conduct a search for our next CEO. Bob has a long and successful track record operating a large distribution company. We will benefit from his wealth of management experience as well as his knowledge of our business from his board tenure. Under Bob’s leadership, we will continue to execute on our strategic plan to strengthen and diversify our business as we also focus on operational excellence,” lead director Anne Whittemore said in a prepared statement.

“Owens & Minor is a highly respected company that is well positioned to address the critical supply chain needs of providers and manufacturers across the continuum of care. I look forward to working with our dedicated teammates to provide our customers with services and products that improve healthcare delivery,” Sledd said.

In addition to Sledd taking over as interim CEO, the company said that its current interim CFO Robert Snead will continue in his position.

“Robert is an outstanding teammate and I look forward to working closely with him,” Sledd said.

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 EOS Imaging taps NA prez Lobinsky as CEO

EOS Imaging (EPA:EOSI) said last week that it has picked NA prez Mike Lobinsky as its new CEO, taking over for Marie Meynadier who will step away from the position at the beginning of the new year, but will retain a board seat.

The move comes as the Paris, France-based company looks to strengthen its presence in the US and to expand its shareholder base, EOS Imaging said.

Lobinsky’s election was unanimously decided by the company’s board of directors, EOS Imaging said. He has held leadership positions with Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN), Brainlab, Blue Belt Technologies  and Stryker (NYSE:SYK), the company added.

EOS Imaging said that it also added Valérie Worrall as its new CFO. Worrall has previously served as CFO of medical device company Balt.

“I have enjoyed working with Mike for over a year. His leadership and knowledge of the industry, combined with his fine understanding of corporate culture, are excellent assets for EOS imaging and I have complete confidence in his ability to continue and accelerate the development of the company. Our North American market is considerable, and Mike will be able to develop it without denying our European roots, relying on the talented management team present in Paris, particularly Eric Maulavé, chief operating officer, to continue to drive global growth. It was an honor and a great pleasure to serve the company and to develop it since its foundation. I am most grateful to the men and women within our staff, to our directors, shareholders and clinical partners, who contributed to this development over these last years. Our teams can be proud of the work accomplished, and I have full confidence that they will continue to build our success under Mike’s leadership,” Meynadier said in a press release.

“Marie’s vision, her energy and her remarkable managerial talent have brought EOS imaging to a stage of excellence and a unique international reputation. Marie has given the company access today to an acceleration opportunity in the United States, which is a new step. She has managed to attract a management team capable of taking up this new challenge and ensure a successful succession. It is rare to be able to apprehend the future in such optimism,” board chair Gérard Hascoet said in a prepared statement.

“I am very grateful to Marie and the board members for their trust and pleased to accept the CEO position. Few companies have accomplished what EOS has and these achievements have established a strong foundation for further development. The potential of our entire solution is outstanding, and I am confident in our ability to translate this into growth and value in the short, medium, and long terms,” Lobinsky said in a prepared release.

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 Bovie Medical CFO Ewers to retire

Bovie Medical (NYSE:BVX) said this week that its chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary Jay Ewers intends to retire.

The Clearwater, Fla.-based company said that it has launched a search for a replacement and that Ewers will stay with the company until a successor is found, after which he will aid in the transition process.

“I would like to thank Jay, on behalf of the board and the entire team at Bovie Medical, for his significant contributions since joining the company in 2014. We appreciate his continued commitment to the company and its shareholders as we identify a successor and wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” prez & CEO Charlie Goodwin said in a prepared statement.

“It has been a great pleasure to serve on the executive leadership team at Bovie Medical and I’m proud of our many accomplishments during my tenure. With the proceeds from the recent strategic transaction, Bovie Medical is in a strong financial position to pursue its future growth objectives, and I believe this was the right time to begin my transition to retirement,” Ewers said in a press release.

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 Procept BioRobotics appoints Waters as CFO

Procept BioRobotics said last week it appointed former Accuray (NSDQ:ARAY)  chief financial officer Kevin Waters as its new CFO.

Prior to joining Accuray, Waters held financial leadership positions with a number of medical device companies including Conceptus, Laserscope and Visx. He has also held positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company said.

“Kevin’s deep industry knowledge and leadership experience in commercial stage organizations make him a valuable addition to the Procept team, as we drive towards making Aquablation therapy with the Aquabeam robotic system the standard of care for treating BPH. His appointment rounds out the executive team at Procept, well-positioning the company for strong growth ahead,” founder & CEO Nikolai Aljuri said in a press release.

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Here’s how Sanofi separates true innovation from all the hype in digital health

Recognizing that digital technology is here to stay in the business of healthcare, pharmaceutical companies have not shied away from collaborating with the folks in Silicon Valley.

Sanofi (NYSE:SNY), for instance, has dove in feet first, striking deals with major tech players like Verily. But weeding out true disruptions from all the noise isn’t easy.

“There’s a lot of hype,” said Rachel Sha, VP of Sanofi’s digital business development & licensing unit. “We work really hard to identify companies that don’t just have nice slides, but actually have early experience and data showing the impact of their technology.”

Get the full story at our sister site, Drug Delivery Business News.

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Speakers you need to see at DeviceTalks Minnesota

A Google executive whose own heart problems spurred her to seek medtech innovation, a leader at Abbott who wants to drive healthcare value, the head of an upstart company seeking to transform diabetes care — those are but some of the speakers you will encounter at DeviceTalks Minnesota this June.

Read on to find out more about some of the top speakers we’ve lined up for the show. And register soon to attend.


Attend DeviceTalks Minnesota, June 4–5 in St. Paul>>

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All heart: A Google executive’s real-world experience with medtech

Heidi Dohse, senior program manager at Google

After hearing the story of her 10 cardiac surgeries and seven pacemakers, you could be forgiven for thinking that Heidi Dohse has a weak heart. But the Google executive, endurance cyclist and, now, inspirational speaker she may have a stronger heart than most people on the planet.

Dohse, a senior program manager at Google and upcoming keynote speaker at DeviceTalks Minnesota, was 18 when an EKG before a routine knee surgery to clean out scar tissue, which had built up during her days as a competitive skier and professional windsurfer, uncovered a rare and potentially deadly arrhythmia.

“It turns out 270 [beats per minute] is not normal,” Dohse told recently.

That routine EKG visit turned into a 30-day stay at University of California, San Francisco’s cardiac care unit, she told us, where she became essentially a research subject as doctors tried to decipher a rare arrhythmia that caused her heart rate to fluctuate from 270 BPM to 12 BPM.

Eventually, Dohse was asked if she wanted to participate in an experimental AV node ablation surgery, performed by Dr. Melvin Scheinman. It was then that she was implanted with the first of her seven pacemakers.

Get the full story on our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing. 

And come to DeviceTalks Minnesota on June 4–5 to hear the rest of Heidi’s incredible story, and find out how she’s working to enable the patient’s voice.

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Google, Fitbit ink collab healthcare deal, look to challenge Apple Watch

Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) yesterday announced plans for a health-care collaboration with Google (NSDQ:GOOG), giving Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) and its Apple Watch more competition in the mobile health monitor market.

The wearable developer plans to use Google’s Cloud healthcare API for further healthcare system integration, which could allow FitBit activity data to be integrated with electronic medical records for more personalized care, Fitbit said.

“Over the past decade, we have built an incredible foundation as the leading wearables brand, helping millions of people around the world make lasting behavior changes that improve their health and wellness through fun and engaging experiences. Working with Google gives us an opportunity to transform how we scale our business, allowing us to reach more people around the world faster, while also enhancing the experience we offer to our users and the healthcare system. This collaboration will accelerate the pace of innovation to define the next generation of healthcare and wearables,” Fitbit co-founder & CEO James Park said in a prepared statement.

Both companies will also aim to improve management for chronic conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, through the use of services like Twine Health, which Fitbit recently acquired. Fitbit said that using the cloud platform will also allow it to scale more quickly and more properly protect user privacy.

“At Google, our vision is to transform the way health information is organized and made useful. By enabling Fitbit to connect and manage key health and fitness data using our Google Cloud Healthcare API, we are getting one step closer to this goal. Together, we have the opportunity to deliver up-to-date information to providers, enhancing their ability to follow and manage the health of their patients and guide their treatment,” Google Cloud healthcare VP Dr. Gregory Moore said in a press release.

Last month, the American Medical Association said it would partner with Google to launch the AMA Health Care Interoperability and Innovation Challenge designed to support mobile health technology that improves monitoring and care in the management of chronic diseases.

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Google unveils prototype augmented-reality, AI-powered light microscope system

Google (NSDQ:GOOG) this week presented initial data from a prototype augmented reality microscope platform it’s developing for advanced cancer detection, according to a research blog post from the tech giant.

The platform consists of a modified light microscope for real-time image analysis and presents analysis from a machine-learning algorithm directly into the users field of view, Google said.

Google said the platform could be retrofitted into existing light microscopes generally used in hospitals and clinics using low-cost, readily-available components without the need for digital versions of the scopes.

The system can provide a number of visual overlays, including text, arrows, contours, heatmaps and animations, Google said, and is capable of running multiple algorithms intended to improve detection, quantification or classification.

In its prototype, Google said it configured the system to run two cancer detection algorithms – one intended to detect breast cancer metastases in lymph node specimens and one intended to detect cancer in prostatectomy specimens.

The prototype system overlays an outline around detected tumor regions with a green contour to help draw the pathologists attention without obscuring the tumor cell appearance, Google said.

Project researchers said that the device “performed remarkably well” on the augmented-reality system, with the lymph node metastasis models achieving an area-under-the-curve of 0.98 and the prostate cancer model achieving an AUC of 0.96 for cancer detection.

“We believe that the ARM has potential for a large impact on global health, particularly for the diagnosis of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria, in developing countries. Furthermore, even in hospitals that will adopt a digital pathology workflow in the near future, ARM could be used in combination with the digital workflow where scanners still face major challenges or where rapid turnaround is required (e.g. cytology, fluorescent imaging, or intra-operative frozen sections). Of course, light microscopes have proven useful in many industries other than pathology, and we believe the ARM can be adapted for a broad range of applications across healthcare, life sciences research, and material science. We’re excited to continue to explore how the ARM can help accelerate the adoption of machine learning for positive impact around the world,” Google technical lead Martin Stumpe and brain team member Craig Mermel wrote in a blog post.

Earlier this month, the American Medical Association said it is partnering with Google to launch the AMA Health Care Interoperability and Innovation Challenge designed to support mobile health technology that improves monitoring and care in the management of chronic diseases.

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Amazon lures ex-FDA chief health informatics officer for healthcare skunkworks

Amazon (NSDQ:AMZN) is continuing to build its healthcare team, this time picking up former FDA chief health informatics officer Taha Kass-Hout, according to a report from CNBC.

Kass-Hout is slated to take up a business development role with Amazon’s Grand Challenge team, a moonshot technology program similar to Google‘s (NSDQ:GOOG) Google X lab, according to the report.

Amazon has not yet released details on the hire, or what projects in specific that Kass-Hout will work on as the company stays hush-hush on its healthcare endeavors.

Kass-Hout will reportedly be working alongside Amazon Grand Challenge chief Babak Parviz, who previously acted as a director at Google X but jumped ship to Amazon in 2014 as a VP, CNBC reports.

Amazon may be looking to use Kass-Hout’s expertise in healthcare informatics in a project aiming to improve consumer access to healthcare records, CNBC theorizes. The move would be in line with Kass-Hout’s previous work, as he led the openFDA initiative while at the Agency in 2013.

Most recently, Kass-Hout worked at Michigan’s Trinity Health, departing last May according to his LinkedIn profile.

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was looking to revamp its medical supplies business and turn the unit into a major supplier to US hospitals and clinics.

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Medtech’s existential crisis and how it can survive

The new EY report even includes an equation to show how medtech and other life science companies will need to deliver value: “Future value (FV) is driven by innovation (I) that focuses on outcomes with a high degree of personalization and is fueled
by unlocking the power of data (D.” [Image courtesy of EY]

Executives in medtech and other life sciences companies view digital health startups and high tech giants as an existential threat. To compete, they’re going to have to invest in or acquire customer engagement and personalization skills usually associated with online retailers and social networking sites, according to a new report out today from EY.

The report — Life Sciences 4.0: Securing value through data-driven platforms — quotes Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky to indicate where things are going:  “Technology will touch everything that we do, whether it’s the way we use data to better understand the genome … or as it applies to things like minimally invasive surgery, even the way we talk to consumer vis-à-vis social media.”

Technology isn’t the only factor driving the change. Aging populations in the developed world mean that both public and private payers are tackling budgetary constraints and longstanding inefficiencies in healthcare systems.

In the medical device industry, companies are having to decide whether they are products companies selling to health providers or services companies focused on patients as a customer, according to the report’s author, Pamela Spence,  EY Global Life Sciences industry leader.

“I think companies need to decide what they want to be. … It’s hard to do both,” Spence said during an interview with our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing.

Get the full story on MDO. 

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Google looks to take healthcare into the Cloud

Google (NSDQ:GOOG) is taking its Cloud services into the field of healthcare as it aims to enable data sharing and collaboration between providers and patients, according to a recent blog post from the tech giant.

The company said it recently launched the Cloud Healthcare API service to address interoperability issues in healthcare data. The system includes a scalable infrastructure designed to ingest and manage healthcare data, including HL7, FHIR and DICOM formats, and allow for its use in analytics and machine learning systems, according to the post.

Google said it is already working with the Stanford School of Medicine through an early launch program to test the Cloud Healthcare API.

“Open standards are critical to healthcare interoperability as well as for enabling biomedical research. We have been using the Google Cloud Genomics API for a long time and are very excited to see Google Cloud expanding its offerings to include the new Cloud Healthcare API. The ability to combine interoperability with Google Cloud’s scalable analytics will have a transformative impact on our research community,” Stanford School of Medicine Research IT director Somalee Datta said in prepared statement.

The company said it is hopeful that its cloud-based Healthcare API will improve adoption of machine learning in the healthcare field and allow for increased clinical insights and improvements for patients, according to the blog post.

Google said it is working with a number of partners in the healthcare field utilizing its cloud-based services, including Flex, Imagia, Kanteron Systems and WuXi NextCODE.

Another partner, DiA Imaging Analysis, said today it inked a collaborative deal with Google Cloud looking to produce new automated tools for ultrasound imaging analysis.

The Israel-based company said it is developing tools using machine learning algorithms and pattern recognition on Google’s Cloud platform, looking to improve both immediate and remote evaluations of ultrasound images.

“One of DiA’s obvious advantages is its ability to operate cross platforms. Our automated tools can be easily implemented into any ultrasound device and any healthcare IT system including cloud based platforms, all as part of the physician’s workflow. Once Google Cloud announced its engagement with the medical imaging industry, it was natural that we join forces to offer our quick and accurate auto ultrasound analysis, together with Google’s cloud-enabled capabilities, in order to improve patient outcome,” DiA CEO Hila Aslan said in a prepared release.

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